Friday, August 5, 2016

Gringo's Take On Thailand.....

We arrived in Bangkok, Thailand after a mere 20 hours of flying time a bit worn out. It was a Monday night that we said good bye to my old childhood state of New Jersey and headed to New York City. By way of an Uber taxi we found ourselves at JFK Airport in plenty of time to catch our flight. As we stood in line to check in for the flight a young woman stopped to ask a question. "Are you in line for Sun Airlines," she asked. Clyde simply responded with the word,  "Etihad." Her immediate response was, "oh great you don't even speak English." We laughed and explained that we were in the line for Etihad Airlines as the woman took off looking

The airport filled with passengers as we prepared for our 10:30 departure. Our 13 hour flight would leave us in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates for two hours. It was quite the culture shock being the only gringo's on a plane full of Muslims all dressed in traditional attire. Abu Dhabi Airport had it's own quirks that included a prayer room.

Since we flew coach our seats were less than wonderful as we expected. But the airline treated us wonderfully with our choice of food, several meals including snacks and free alcohol too. With some Benadryl and Bose noise cancelling headphones we did manage to get some sleep. From Abu Dhabi our second flight was 7 hours and even though it was another overnighter, we stayed awake.

After two trains and a taxi driver that spoke no English, we found our way to the Ari section of Bangkok. We spent the night in a large apartment where we will do a house sit in a few weeks. Our hosts were just lovely and showed us around the neighborhood. For dinner we joined them and some of their expat friends at a local restaurant. Tired from a long day of travel plus a 12-hour ahead time change, I was fading fast.  We fell into bed by 9pm for some much needed sleep.

The next day we packed a few backpacks and boarded yet another plane for Chiang Mai. Our one hour flight on Bangkok Airlines was delightful. Labeled as a "boutique" airline the flight attendants resembled China dolls and treated us like royalty. First a refreshing towel followed by a meal of sweet and sour fish, rice and veggies, banana coconut pudding, juice, water and coffee. By the time we finished all of that we were landing.

Last night we had our first Thai massage that was just wonderful! First our massage ladies bathed our feet and fitted us with slippers. We followed our ladies to a room and were given scrubs to change into. We climbed onto the table and to our surprise the massuesse climbed aboard too. For the next hour we were rubbed, twisted, pushed, pulled and more. The massuesse used her body against ours and even climbed onto our backs for better access. And the best was the price of $6.

It's Friday night in Chiang Mai, Thailand and I just finished washing elephant drool off my shirt in the hotel bathroom sink. They saw that travel changes you and I see it happening as I type this on my eight inch tablet with two fingers.

 I used to be that person who laughed at those that wore socks underneath sandals and today for the first time, I was that person. You see it all started with some ugly Teva sport sandals that I thought would be more practical than my beloved flp flops. While I do love a cute flip flop they're not practical for walking long distances which is what our new lifestyle is all about. But perhaps the Teva's know that I don't like them so they scraped up my big toe causing pain and countless bandages so today I opted for socks. Add the socks came in handy while out exploring Buddhist "waks" the Thai word for temple. Shoes must be removed to enter a wak but I really hate walking barefoot outside, so the socks worked great with me being the OCD nut case that I am.

So today after a morning of wat hopping we hopped into a tuk-tuk for a little tour around the city. More wats, a factory where silver products are made by hand, and a visit to a silk factory were all fascinating.

Then we headed out to get up close and personal with a few Asian elephants this afternoon. After a 90-minute drive our guide stopped in someone's front yard. Raised from birth by two guys from Myramir, the elephant encounter was not your typical tourist attraction. Left to enjoy their natural habitat these elephants are never abused, rode or treated like circus animals. We were encouraged to feed them sugar cane, pet them and enjoy their presence only. Part of the experience was to allow us to bathe them in the river but the monsoon rains poured down so we decided to skip that part. Instead we sat and watched as the elephants entertained us by just being themselves. They enjoyed the warm rain, munched on bamboo, tossed mud onto their backs to ward off mosquitoes and occasionally grouped us with their trunks, almost like a handshake.

I never expected to find elephants in Asia but here they live to the ripe old age of 80. There are even road signs warning of "elephant crossings," since they roam freely in much of the jungle here.

Next we headed over to a place that looked like something out of a TV documentary. A visit to a real life village of long-necked women right here in Thailand. Also hailing from Myramir there are many tribes of these woman here. It all begins around age five when young girls are fitted with gold bands to lenghten their necks. Considered to be a thing of beauty, a freakish fashion statement, more bands are added as the ladies grow in size. The rings are only removed long enough to clean them and are kept in place always. Here in Thailand the ladies support themselves by allowing tourists to gawk at them along while selling their handicrafts.

Some spicy good Thai food was enjoyed for dinner before heading back to our cheap hotel to chill out for the night. For just $25 a night we're enjoying a simple boutique hotel in a great part of town that even includes breakfast. Tomorrow we're off for more adventures as we explore Thailand......along the gringo trail.

Terry and Clyde are able to "Travel The World House Sitting"  and so can you!  We have created a website to help people who want to learn about house sitting.    Information for both the prospective house sitter and for someone who needs a house sitter.

the New Website                          -->  CLICK HERE

How to Get Your First House Sit -->  CLICK HERE

How to find a house sitter          ---->  CLICK HERE

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